Gwatkin – Game Cock Cider – Reviewed

Producer:  Gwatkin https://gwatkincider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Game Cock Cider
Region: Herefordshire
ABV:4.5
Taste: Sweet
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Sweet Apple
Colour: Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Still

Review / Tasting notes

“The game cock cider, like the bird, is handy and dauntless in character and won’t take long to rustle your feathers.  Your only instinct is to try the plucky sweet cider that mates well with the game of the land.”

Aroma of sweet, mellow apples will gently glide your way as you pour this into your glass.  The eagle-eyed amongst you will notice that whilst the sweet apples get top billing, this cider is a little more complex with a touch of honey giving way to cinnamon spiciness.

Verdict:

A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush and you won’t be disappointed to have this as your cider in hand.  It is a rather pheasant, sweet, still cider with a nice hit of warm, woody spice nesting in the taste.

Rating: This is a Very Good Cider in the category (Craft cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Sam’s Cider – Poundhouse Crisp – Reviewed

Producer: The Winkleigh Cider Company https://winkleighcider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Sam’s Cider – Poundhouse Crisp
Region: Devon
ABV: 4.5%
Taste: Medium Sweet
Served: 500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Rich Apples
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Gently Sparkling

Review/Tasting Notes

“Our Sam’s Poundhouse Cider is a clean and crisp refreshing cider.  A real thirst quencher.  Made using only locally sourced Devon apples.  Fermented and matured in our 100-year-old oak vats.”

Poundhouse Crisp is a very good description for this cider.  Straight away you are hit with the crisp smell of rich apples followed by a clean, crisp taste which gently fades leaving a pleasantly sweet aftertaste after a hit of acidity.

Verdict

Clean.  Tick.  Crisp. Tick.  Refreshing. Tick. This cider provides the same sensation in your mouth as your body experiences when climbing into a bed with a fresh, clean, crisp set of new sheets on it.  If there is one minor fault, it is that the sensation does not last as long as you would like [like Stefan’s clean sheets! – Ed.].

Rating: This is a good cider in the category (Regional Cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Gwatkin Cider – Cloudy Medium Sweet Cider – Reviewed

Producer:  Gwatkin Cider Co http://gwatkincider.co.uk
Cider Name: Cloudy Cider (Medium Sweet)
Available at: https://orchardexplorers.club/gwatkin-cloudy-cider
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV:4.5%
Taste:  Medium Sweet, Juicy with honey notes and light citrus
Served:  500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Fruity Apple, Lemon zest, Honey
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Cloudy
Carbonation: Still Cider

Review / Tasting notes

“Gwatkin Cloudy Cider is a medium-sweet, traditional style farmhouse cider, with a natural taste.”

This cloudy cider, made from 100% apples, is very good indeed. The blend is dominated by the russet apples, giving an upfront taste of pure juice and honey before the sweetness kicks in. Beneath the caramel and light acidity, there are enough sharps to make themselves present on the palate. A trace of citrus, possibly lemon zest, occurs naturally and adds to the complex flavours.

Pure sugar is used to sweeten this blend and for some, this may be just too sweet to enjoy. However, as a reviewer who enjoys dry ciders, I was surprised by how much I loved this.

Verdict:

Gwatkin make cider in the traditional way. This cloudy, medium sweet apple cider is rated very highly by our tasters. Expect to see it appear in our Top 100.

Rating: This is a Cider of Distinction in the category (Regional cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Simon’s Cider – Dabinett – Reviewed

Producer: Simon’s Cider http://simonscider.co.uk
Cider Name: Dabinett
Region: Cambridgeshire, UK 
ABV: 6.9% 
Taste: Dry, Tannic, Spicy 
Served: Room Temp 
Smell: Floral and Christmas Spice – Plum Notes
Colour: Dark Amber
Clarity: Mostly clear with a slight haze 
Carbonation: Still
Award Category: (Regionally Produced Cider)

Review / Tasting notes:

“The depth and complexity of Dabinett is amazing, it is magnificent in the blend.  It is incredibly tannic with Christmas spice notes.”

The aroma of this single variety Dabinett from Simon’s Cider is bright, floral with Christmas Spice and plum notes. Dark brown amber in the bottle, this still cider pours beautifully. It looks great in the glass.

The bittersweet Dabinett is a great cider apple for a single variety cider and this is an excellent example. Upfront sweetness is replaced almost instantaneously with bitterness and light acidity. The fruity and spicy aftertaste lingers briefly in a dry and clean finish.

Verdict: A fine cider that presents the Dabinett in all its bittersweet glory. Dry and tannic, this is one for the table and not for the pub garden.

Rating: This is a cider of Distinction in the category (Regionally Produced Cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Simon’s Cider – Browns Medium-dry (2017)- Reviewed

Producer: Simon’s Cider http://simonscider.co.uk
Cider Name: Browns Medium Dry
Region: Cambridgeshire, UK 
ABV: 6.4% 
Taste: Medium Dry, Tannic, Sharp 
Served: Room Temp 
Smell: Fruit and spice 
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Mostly clear with a slight haze 
Carbonation: Still
Award Category: (Regionally Produced Cider) 

Review / Tasting notes:

“Browns brings gentle tannins and a wonderful acidity, bottled as a medium dry this cider is a fantastic example of how good a cider apple can be.”

On pouring, my wife described this as an upside-down sunrise in a glass. A very apt description for this golden still apple cider from Simon’s Cider.

The nose is fruity with plenty of Christmas Spice and clove. Some vanilla and almonds add to this fantastic aroma. Tiny slithers of light pectin give this a raw and full body in the glass with a scrumpy-like quality on the palate.

Upfront tannic bitterness is followed by sharpness and a drying mouthfeel. Furthermore, there is a dirtiness and fullness to the mouthfeel which adds real depth to this exemplary cider.

The presence of acidity lends balance to an already complex flavour. If anything, the sharpness may be a little too sharp for some and some might prefer it if the aftertaste could linger a little longer.

Verdict: Browns Medium Dry is a superb Single Variety cider. We agree with Simon’s assessment that this 2017 vintage is a fine example of just “how good a cider apple can be.”

Rating: This is a cider of distinction in the category (Regionally Produced Cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Angioletti – Riserva Craft – Reviewed

Producer: Angioletti www.angioletticider.com
Cider Name: Angioletti Riserva Craft Italian Cider
Region: Dolomites, Italy
ABV: 6.8%
Taste: Clean, crisp apples
Served: 500ml Bottle Chilled
Smell: Crisp apple
Colour: Golden
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Slightly Sparkling

Review/Tasting Notes

“Fine bubbles, rich and complex aromas, beautifully balanced by the characteristic delicate house style.  Ripe structured apple flavours give way to a long, clean, crisp aftertaste.”

This pours with a reassuring fizz that more than hints at the clean, crisp refreshment to come.  The smell of fresh, ripe, Italian apples is evident as soon as the sparkles start to form in the glass. A theme which continues as the taste of those Italian apples never diminishes, even long after the glass is empty.  There are no other distractions and none are needed.

Verdict

Definition of consistency, with clean, fresh, refreshing apples being evident at every turn.  It has a reassuring taste combined with a crisp refreshment provided by the native Italian applies.  A cider as finely tuned as an Italian sports car engine and as culturally refined as the Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore. As exquisite in taste as a fine Italian, tailored suit.

Awards: Bronze Award

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Meon Valley Cider – Chalk Stream – Reviewed

Producer: Meon Valley Cider http://www.meonvalleycider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Chalk Stream
Region: Hampshire, Uk
ABV: 6%
Taste: Bitterweet apple
Served: 500ml bottle (Lightly chilled)
Smell: Bittersweet apples, hint of almond
Colour: Golden Amber
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“Our mainstream cider. Eminently quaffable! A golden amber coloured refreshing cider with an appley nose and long dry finish. Well balanced flavour comprising our own and locally sourced Hampshire and Sussex dessert/culinary apples bittersweets and bittersharps from the West Country”

The third and final of the Meon Valley bottled range to be reviewed. This is the least complex of the three but undoubtedly the most refreshing.

The aroma is sweet apple with a hint of almond. Golden amber and lightly sparkling, Chalk Stream looks stunning in the glass and promises plenty. Upfront bittersweets dominate this blend of East meets West apples. Only towards the end, are the bittersharps present giving a crisp and tannic finish. The aftertaste is really pleasant and demands another sip.

Verdict: A very moreish, well-balanced medium cider. Although it lacks complexity, it is a cider that I would happily “quaff” on the river bank for hours.

Rating: Bronze Award* (Good Cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

*A Bronze award is awarded to only 10% of ciders reviewed by us. Therefore this is a highly rated cider in the category of ‘Good Cider’.

Meon Valley Cider – Dragonfly – Reviewed

Producer: Meon Valley Cider http://www.meonvalleycider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Dragonfly
Region: Hampshire, Uk
ABV: 6%
Taste: Bitter-sharp, crisp apple skins, broad tannin bitter-sweet
Served: 500ml bottle (Lightly chilled)
Smell: Wildflowers
Colour: Amber (Honey)
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling
Award Category: Regional Cider

Review / Tasting notes

“Honey coloured, wildflower nose with almond notes, hints of bittersweet and a lingering dry finish.”

An intriguing fusion of East meets West apples in this delightful Hampshire blend.

The upfront bitter-sharps fizz momentarily before crisp apple skins and broad tannins give depth to the taste. There follows a little bitter-sweetness alongside honey and latterly clove. The finish is bitter but not too much so, neither is this so dry that the fruit is overwhelmed. Finely balanced with just a modicum of astringency in the after-taste.

Verdict: This is a fantastic and intriguing blend. One for the table to accompany a blue cheese perhaps. This is a very fine cider indeed and one of only a handful to be issued our silver award.

Rating: Silver Award* (Regional Cider)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

*A Silver award is awarded to only 5% of ciders reviewed by us. Therefore this is a highly rated cider in the category of ‘Regional Cider’.

Henney’s Dry Cider – Reviewed

Producer: Henney’s  http://www.henneys.co.uk
Cider Name: Dry Cider
Region: Herefordshire, Uk
ABV: 6%
Taste: Bittersweet, clove, honey notes, Dry
Served: 500ml bottle (Lightly Chilled)
Smell: Fresh Apple and Honey sweet aroma
Colour: Gold
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review / Tasting notes

“’Sweet appley aroma. palate has a delicious bittersweet apple character with some spicy bite and a bit of tannic grip. Very fruity and quite pure, with a nice savoury twist.’”

The upfront taste is a fellowship of sweetness, spice, bitter-sweetness and broad tannins. The fruit taste does not get lost or overwhelmed as it does sometimes in very dry ciders. Honey notes take over for a short while before spice kicks in toward the end, leaving a warm mouthfeel.

The balance of the cider is outstanding as the acidity, bitterness and sweetness never dominate, they just seem to introduce each other politely before the spice dominates the finale. The aftertaste is stunning and should be savoured as the hint of spice and tannins linger on the palate.

Verdict: This is an early contender for a position near the summit of our Top 100. Henney’s Dry Cider is only the second cider to be awarded the silver medal by our reviewers.

Rating: 8.7 (Silver Award)

Ranking: To be announced (01/07/2021)

Meon Valley Cider – Brown Trout reviewed

Producer: Meon Valley Cider http://www.meonvalleycider.co.uk/
Cider Name: Brown Trout
Region: Hampshire, Uk
ABV: 6.0%
Taste: Medium Dry – caramel notes
Served: 500ml bottle at room temperature
Smell: Oak and Apple (strong nose)
Colour: Light Brown
Clarity: Clear
Carbonation: Lightly Sparkling

Review/Tasting Notes:

This award winning (Joint-second – Cider of the Festival CAMRA Southampton 2018) cider is a complex medium dry craft cider. High in tannins, leaving a wonderful after-taste that lingers well beyond tasting.

“Amber cider lightly oaked with vanilla, kiwi fruit, and caramel notes. Good with stilton cheese and desserts. Using local Hampshire and Sussex dessert apples together with bittersweeets from the West Country.”

Verdict: Complex and mature. Sure to feature in the Top 100.

Rating: 8.6 (Silver Award Winner)

Ranking: To be confirmed (01/07/2021)